Safety requires partnership
 Feb. 25, 2013

Accountability for accident and injury prevention varies significantly from organization to organization. Ultimately, everyone is responsible and should also be accountable. But, does everyone clearly understand their role and responsibilities? Let's break them down.

Management Responsibilities

  • Identifying and addressing injurious exposures in the workplace
  • Evaluating safety conditions and eliminating or controlling potential hazards
  • Maintain compliance with all OSHA requirements
  • Providing employees with safe, properlymaintained tools and equipment (including Personal Protective Equipment - PPE), and ensuring they use it
  • Maintaining appropriate recordsof illnesses, injuries, and fatalities
  • Investigating accidents and incidents and modifying the safety program to ensure it addresses new exposures or hazards that might be revealed

Management's Commitment

  • Visible program support from top management
  • Support resources- an investment of time and money in safety and loss prevention
  • Clearly established safety program goals and objectives and include them in the business plans that are set by management and communicated to all employees
  • A safety and health/risk management policy statement
  • Assignment of safety and health responsibilities as part of the performance expectations for managers and supervisors
  • Accountability on the part of managers, supervisors, and employees for meeting their safety responsibilities

Employees are Critical Partners in Achieving Safety Success

Although safety practices are driven from the top, they are measured at the bottom. Management sometimes believes that safety is primarily their responsibility and employees can do little to help foster a safe workplace. Conversely, employees often take the view that safety is management's responsibility and not theirs. They just need to follow the rules and be productive. In reality, both perceptions are wrong.

Without employee involvement, commitment and cooperation, management by itself can't successfully avoid accidents and achieve desired loss results. OSHA recognizes the role employees must play and outlines this in the OSHA Employee Responsibility Statement - "Each employee shall comply with occupational safety and health standards and all rules, regulations, and orders issued pursuant to this Act which are applicable to his own actions and conduct."

Employee safety responsibilities include:

  • Following safety and health rules
  • Wearing and using all required PPE correctly
  • Following safe work practices
  • Reporting hazardous conditions to a supervisor

Beyond meeting the responsibilities outlined above, employees can also demonstrate their commitment to safety by participating in:

  • Workplace inspections such as incident/injury investigations or near-miss investigations
  • Hazard recognition and reporting
  • Development of safe work practices
  • Training coworkers and new hires to work safely
  • Participate on the safety committee

Management commitment and employee involvement go hand in hand. Both should take ownership as partners for workplace safety and avoiding accidents.

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